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TAS Country : May 24th 2012
12 Tasmanian Country Friday, May 25, 2012 News Fruit growers' conference Late bloomers gain advantage GROWTH POTENTIAL: Blackberries and red currants KAROLIN MacGREGOR Cherries leading the way WHEN it comes to the Australian domestic market, Tasmanian berry growers have a significant seasonal advantage. David Harris, from Harris Farms, the country's largest independent fresh food retailer, told participants at last week's Fruit Growers Tasmania con- ference that there were opportunities for local growers to take advantage of the state's later fruit season. ''Tasmania has clean green creden- tials in mainland markets,'' he said. ''They absolutely trust the brand and have an expectation your products will be top-quality.'' Mr Harris said this was particularly true when it came to Tasmanian cherries. ''The challenge for Tassie fruit is how do you get the reputation of cherries to rub off on to other fruit,'' he said. Mr Harris said that while Tasmanian-grown fruit had further to travel to reach most mainland markets, this problem could be overcome with good post-harvest handling. Late-season Tasmanian apricots are one product Mr Harris has been impressed with. However, he said berries were where the real growth markets could be. Mr Harris said demand for blackber- ries was growing, along with English gooseberries and red currants in the period before Christmas. ''I would love to see the whole industry take advantage of it,'' he said. ''People will pay a massive premium for things if they are good quality.'' Mr Harris said having a broader focus was also important. ''The most successful businesses I find are concentrating on being the best in the world, not just the best domestically,'' he said. ''Don't forget, the harder you work the luckier you become.'' Woolworths general manager of fresh foods Pat McEntee was also a guest speaker at the conference and said because of the state's cool climate Tasmanian grown fruit had a longer shelf life. Woolworths sources fresh products from about 40 Tasmanian farmers, including berry producers. Each year the supermarket chain buys about 326 tonnes of cherries and 500,000 punnets of strawberries and blueberries from the state. Mr McEntee said a crucial part of Woolworths' policy was making cus- tomers' demands a priority. ''Four years on from the global financial crisis, confidence is still restrained,'' he said. ''Customers are looking at ways to stretch their dollars further, and cus- tomers are also buying less and shop- ping more often to prevent waste.'' Mr McEntee said most customers liked to try products before they purchase them, so in-store sampling was becoming more important. ''There's no doubt quality is the most important thing with fruit and veg- etables,'' he said. ''The majority of customers decide where they're going to shop by the quality of the fruit and vegetables.'' Mr McEntee said research had shown that berries were a discretion- ary purchase for many people, who weighed up carefully the decision to buy them or not. In some of the company's newest stores, specially designed display areas called the Berry Patch have been established to showcase berry fruits. Where they have been installed, these display cabinets have seen berry sales lift by 10 per cent. They are now in 50 stores across the country and will be rolled out into *2.9% comparison rate available to approved personal applicants & a 2.9% annual percentage rate is available to approved Bronze Fleet & Primary Producer applicants of Toyota Finance for the financing of Yaris YR hatch, Yaris YRS sedan, Corolla Ascent, Corolla Ascent Sport & RAV4 CV 4CYL. Excludes demos. 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May 10th 2012
May 31st 2012